Conventions a great place, but they still have bad people

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, April 17th, 2019 at 10:13 PM

Recently, I experienced my first full convention. I’ve gone to Sci-Fi Valley Con a couple times, but only for a day at most. This past weekend, I attended a convention called Tekko, an event honoring Japanese culture, with a group of my close friends. We went three out of the four days, and it was the very first time I cosplayed at such an event.

The first day I went as Seras Victoria (from “Hellsing”) and was asked for a photo within moments of being on the convention floor. I panicked. I honestly did not think anyone would want to take photos of me, and there were at least 15 people who asked for pictures of me and my boyfriend, who went as Alucard. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but Tekko wasn’t quite it.

My friends and I spent the majority of each day there, arriving early in the morning and leaving around 2 a.m. It became tiring much faster than I thought it would. I had a great time getting closer to a few of my friends, finding cool merchandise and enjoying the many cosplayers in attendance.

I had a mixed reaction to the panels offered this year. Some were amazing. I broke away from my group to learn some embroidery tricks and had a blast at some of the 18+ panels. Many of the other panels didn’t appeal to me or were different from what I expected them to be.

I was showered with compliments from those who recognized the characters I was portraying. “I love your cosplay” and “I love that character” was among the amazing positivity that comes with cosplaying, regardless of one’s skill level at the hobby. Everyone in attendance came to have fun and appreciate their favorite characters and media, and it showed fabulously.

For the most part the convention was amazing, but there were, of course, a few issues. The most obvious was individuals being creepy, giving off uncomfortable vibes to those around them. This issue was so prevalent that I had many conversations with many others about certain attendees before I left.

I was unfortunate enough to not only run into such a group of men, but did so alone. We parked in the attached garage of the convention center, and I thought I’d be fine by myself. I was grabbing clothes for my Poison Ivy outfit for a DC Comics photo shoot. I was in my leaf bodysuit and over-the-knee boots when I hurried past a group of men who began discussing my body and how I was a “freak.” It was so horrible that I almost started crying. I didn’t know what to do. I messaged my friends in a group chat that we have and Zach, who can be pretty intimidating, wanted to come get me. By the time I received his message, however, I had thankfully made it back inside.

Another issue is that people often forget that cosplayers are people too. My friends and I were approached late Friday evening for a picture, and I was incredibly tired for the photo. The photographer commented that I “should smile.” All I wanted to do was scream. It was the first time I had been at an event for that long, and I was desperately in need of a break. Instead, I got sassed. The person probably meant well, but it still hurt to hear.

Lastly, there was merchandise of underage girls in extremely sexualized situations. I was really uncomfortable, especially when I saw how many adult men were openly buying said merchandise.

I have some advice for the first time convention goer: conventions may focus on consent and safety, and present themselves as going above and beyond to help you, but it doesn’t mean much. You’ll still run into uncomfortable people and triggering situations. If you’re with a group, your friends will often attend events you aren’t interested in, leaving you alone. Try to set up meeting times for events you and your friends want to do together. You may not see your friends for hours at a time, so make the most of the time you have together. And remember, don’t get caught up in the rude comments you may get or your friends doing their own thing.

Erica Burkholder | voices.spectator@gmail.com

Tags: con, tekko, convention

View Our YouTube Channel
Edinboro TV
 
Find Us on Instagram